Op-Ed: Time running out for killer whales

MP Randall Garrison is introducing a motion to save resident killer whales

Federal NDP MP Randall Garrison

Federal NDP MP Randall Garrison

On October 24, 2013 I tabled motion M-460 in the House of Commons calling on the government to implement an Action Plan to protect the remaining 81 southern resident killer whales. These orcas have been listed as endangered under the Species At Risk Act since 2003, yet no action has been taken by the federal government.

The southern resident killer whales are not only sentinels for the health of our ecosystem, but also a key part of our local economy and an iconic species for Vancouver Islanders. Whale watching expeditions, museum exhibits, books, and whale souvenirs are all central to tourism on Vancouver Island. I want both our economy and the orcas to continue to prosper rather than ending up with only memories of the times when these majestic creatures graced our planet and our lives.

This motion calls for action in four key areas:

First, it calls for continuing federal support for research and monitoring programs for southern resident killer whales. In particular this action plan would restore federal capacity to monitor pollution in the Pacific Ocean, a capacity lost in the last round of Department of Fisheries and Oceans cuts. It would also restore funding necessary to put whale monitoring boats back on the water.

Second, this plan calls for implementing measures to decrease human generated noise and other disturbances. Noise pollution interferes with communication between whales and with prey location.  As noise pollution may be the most serious threat to the future of southern resident killer whales, this action plan calls for reducing engine noise to safe levels for vessels traveling through critical orca habitat and reductions in overall marine traffic. It also calls for marine clean-up programs to end the harm to whales from marine debris, such as ghost fishing gear, styrofoam, and plastic.

Third, this plan calls for programs to decrease chemical pollution in the Salish Sea. As a species at the top of the food chain, southern resident killer whales have become increasingly affected by toxins through the process of bioaccumulation. These toxins cause cancer and affect longevity and fertility in whales, but of course these toxins also have similar impacts on our children and families since we eat the same fish and swim in the same ocean. There are safe alternatives to almost all the toxins that are ending up in our local waters. We can start by switching to biodegradable household cleaning products, minimizing the use of personal care products, properly disposing of unused pharmaceuticals, and refraining from the use of cosmetic pesticides.

Fourth, this plan calls for measures to increase and enhance chinook salmon stocks as this fish is the principle, and some scientists say near exclusive, food source for southern resident killer whales.  Restoring historic Chinook runs will not only provide critical food for these orcas, but also provide us with an enhanced supply of local food and a boost to sport fishing.

The action plan in motion M-460 is ready to go now.  For more information on how you can help visit my website at randallgarrison.ndp.ca where you can download a poster with simple actions you can take.

Time is running out to save the southern resident killer whales.

 

Randall Garrison, Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca. Member of Parliament. Official Opposition Critic for Public Safety Official Opposition Critic for LG

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner’s report confirms cause of death of three men at Sooke River in 2020

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen drown while ‘puddle-jumping’ in pickup truck

The Pacheedaht First Nation is planning a $1-million expansion to its campground in Port Renfrew. (Pixabay photo)
Expanded camping announced for Pacheedaht Campground

$1-million project is part of the B.C. Rural Economic Recovery program

Don Devenney is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Community Builder of the year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore volunteer’s efforts an exercise in adventurous pursuits

Don Devenney is the 2021 recipient of the Community Builder Award

Sergeant Francis Dion with the box containing HMCS Calgary’s new secret mascot costume. (HMCSNCSMCalgary/Facebook)
A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong winds predicted for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issues warning for Thursday afternoon

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Most Read